The pandemic is not a great leveller
April 12, 2020 2 minutes reading time Life
BBC presenter Emily Maitlis, April 8th, 2020:
“The language around Covid-19 has sometimes felt trite and misleading. You do not survive the illness through fortitude and strength of character, whatever the Prime Minister’s colleagues will tell us. And the disease is not ‘a great leveller’, the consequences of which everyone, rich or poor, suffers the same. This is a myth which needs debunking”.
“Those serving on the front line right now, bus drivers and shelf stackers, nurses, care home workers, hospital staff and shopkeepers are disproportionately the lower paid members of our workforce. They are more likely to catch the disease, because they are more exposed. Those who live in tower blocks and small flats will find the lockdown tougher. Those in manual jobs will be unable to work from home”.
“This is a health issue with huge ramifications for social welfare, and it’s a welfare issue with huge ramifications for public health. Tonight, as France goes into recession, and the World Trade Organisation warns the pandemic could provoke the deepest economic downturn of our lifetimes, we ask what kind of social settlement might need to be put in place to stop the inequality becoming even more stark”.
We have to decide whether there should be a basic right to housing, social participation and a basic income. We have to decide whether obscene wealth and incomes should be abolished worldwide through taxation. It is not because of money or possibilities, there is no political will at the moment. The time will come when we will have no choice, or we’ll lose our democracy. We then will repeat the painful processes that brought us democracy. Do we want that?